Gender, State and Social Power in Contemporary Indonesia: Divorce and Marriage Law, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Gender, State and Social Power in Contemporary Indonesia

Divorce and Marriage Law, 1st Edition

By Kate O'Shaughnessy


284 pages

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This book examines gender, state and social power in Indonesia, focusing in particular on state regulation of divorce from 1965 to 2005 and its impact on women. Indonesia experienced high divorce rates in the 1950s and 1960s, followed by a remarkable decline. Already falling divorce rates were reinforced by the 1974 Marriage Law, which for the first time regulated marriage for both Muslim and non-Muslim Indonesians and restricted access to divorce. This law defined the roles of men and women in Indonesian society, vesting household leadership with husbands and the management of the household with wives. Drawing on a wide selection of primary sources, including court records, legal codes, newspaper reports, fiction, interviews and case studies, this book provides a detailed historical account of this period of important social change, exploring fully the impact and operation of state regulation of divorce, including the New Order government’s aims in enacting this legal framework, its effects in practice and how it was utilised by citizens (both men and women) to advance their own agendas. It argues that the Marriage Law was a tool of social control enacted by the New Order government in response to the social upheaval and protests experienced in the mid 1970s. However, it also shows that state power was not hegemonic: it was both contested and co-opted by citizens, with men and women enjoying different degrees of autonomy from the state. This book explores all of these issues, providing important insights on the nature of the New Order regime, social power and gender relations, both during the years of its rule and since its collapse.

Table of Contents

Introduction Part 1: Legal Contexts Of Divorce 1. Gender And Law: Shaping Female Legal Subjectivity 2. Divorce, Property Relations And Power Part 2: Discourses Of Divorce 3. Divorce And Shame 4. Marital Rights And Obligations Part 3: Implications Of Divorce 5. Women’s Agency: Acquiescence, Co-Optation And Resistance 6. Modernity, Religion, and Nation: Divorce and the Production of Gendered Identities. Conclusion. Bibliography.

About the Author

Kate O’Shaughnessy is Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of History, University of Western Australia. She works for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra.

About the Series

ASAA Women in Asia Series

The primary aim of this important series is to publish original, high quality work on all aspects of women in Asia. Submissions are welcomed from prospective authors, both new and established scholars, working in any appropriate discipline, and should in the first instance be sent to the series editor. Email: [email protected]


Editorial Board:

Hyaeweol Choi (University of Iowa)

Melissa Crouch (University of New South Wales) 

Michele Ford (The University of Sydney)

Trude Jacobsen (Northern Illinois University)

Tanya Jakimow (University of New South Wales)

Lenore Lyons (Independent scholar)

Vera Mackie (University of Wollongong)

Anne McLaren (The University of Melbourne)

Mina Roces (University of New South Wales)

Dina Siddiqi (New York University)

Andrea Whittaker (The University of Queensland)

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Women's Studies